The gallery had been subject to many alterations since the 19th century, the boldest being the introduction of air conditioning in the 1970s, which blocked out natural light. The gallery arrangement became dominated by large air grilles with artificial lighting. The gallery's overall appearance became dated and the finishes, particularly the wall fabric, faded.
Our brief was to reconfigure the environmental control while reducing its visual impact, re-introduce conservation controlled natural daylighting and re-present the gallery.
The gallery was reconstructed within the retained external walls and reused the roof’s original iron structure. This included work to the external facade of the overall building.
Purcell referenced the ceiling’s original coved form with its delicate trellis plasterwork ornamentation and Pompeian red silk for the walls was specially woven to a historically appropriate pattern.
Construction work was carried out while the building remained open to the public.